We spent most of last week back in Wanaka, with it being one of our favourite stops whilst travelling New Zealand. Having sold the van we went a whole two days without a vehicle as we picked up a hire car for the week so we could do a little more exploring and obviously so we could go back to Wanaka.
We went back to the holiday park we stayed at with the van as we liked it there so much, only this time we stayed in one of the queen rooms, which was just right for what we needed. It was often just us in our little block as well so we practically had a whole apartment to ourselves – all for 60 bucks a night!
From there, I had led Hannah to believe that we were checking into another backpackers for the second half of our stint in Wanaka; however, with me being a top boyfriend, I actually booked us into a luxury lodge for a couple of nights over the Valentines weekend! Lots of brownie points earned there!
Having already visited Wanaka before, we mainly went back to relax and enjoy the nice, warm atmosphere the place exerts, but we still found plenty more for us to fill the time with. One of the first things we did was to take the one hour drive to Mt Aspiring National Park where you will find yet more impressive mountains, valleys and glaciers! The drive offered some stunning views, with rocky hills towering over the road on both sides, with waterfalls tumbling down all over. It was a bumpy old ride along the gravel road, with many fords to cross before you reach the road’s termination and many seemingly suicidal sheep to dodge along the way too! In hindsight, we wish we’d been a bit more prepared as we read more about some of the walks at the national park, notably the Rob Roy Glacier track, which is touted as one of the best one day walks in the country.
We also drove an hour in the other direction to check out the Blue Pools which are a short walk off State Highway 6 near Makarora. The lakes, rivers and ocean in and around New Zealand all seem to take on stunning shades of blue, but what was special about the water at the Blue Pools was their exceptional clarity. Although several metres deep, you could see right through to the bottom with the trout swimming around as if in midair!
Another Wanaka attraction we ticked off the list was the transport and toy museum! This was actually a pretty fun way to spend a couple of hours as the place was absolutely packed with cars, toys, planes, trucks and other old items of interest like cash registers, tvs and typewriters. The only criticism is that it was almost too cluttered, with cuddly toys and unopened boxes filling many of the classic cars on show as if that was the only room left to stash them!
Finally, we spent our last morning in Wanaka riding around the lake on hired bikes! It’s a perfect place for bike riding for all levels. We stuck to a leisurely pace and just soaked in the amazing scenery for one last time.
As we left Wanaka, it started to really hit home that this was the end; just four more nights in Queenstown and then it’s time for the mammoth journey back to the UK.
Those last few days were really nice though as we just enjoyed the wonderful Queenstown at our own pace. It’s easily one of my favourite towns that I’ve ever visited; strolling along the lake and around the array of shops, bars and attractions never got tiresome. When the sun sinks the amazing atmosphere is emphasised further with a range of street performers providing entertainment along the lake front. Some were actually really quite good surprisingly! One night we found ourselves watching a show for about an hour – it was just some insanely skilled guy juggling and balancing on stuff but it was strangely enticing – there was a huge crowd by the end as well so we weren’t the only ones drawn in!
From there, we strolled into an Irish Bar a few metres away and found ourselves enjoying a couple more hours of free entertainment in the form of live music which was some of the best I’ve seen in a pub. And just like that, a very enjoyable night had passed us by! It wasn’t quite as cheap as I first made out though as drinks are NOT cheap in NZ!
Another attraction we decided to give a try in town was the Below Zero ice bar. It probably sounds better than it is, but it was quite cool (literally). It was worth it just for the novelty of being in an ice bar, although the novelty did ware off pretty fast. There were plenty of cool ice sculptures (including an ice hockey table!) and a cocktail is included in the price; we were in and out within about 20 minutes or so though. Worth doing but glad we didn’t pay the full price having got the deal on GrabOne!
Another nice spot in Queenstown is the gardens, which are home to yet another rather unique attraction… an official and well looked after frisbee golf course! The rules are just the same as normal golf, with 18 ‘holes’ consisting of a tee, a target and plenty of space in between. It was a lot of fun, but I don’t think we’ll be turning pro any time soon!
For the rest of the final few days we enjoyed some top food (including another Fergburger!) and generally just floated around the shops and bars! And then suddenly, the time had come.
The past 12 months have absolutely flown by, but we’ve had the time of our lives (particularly whilst travelling over the last couple of months).
Having written this in the airport waiting to begin the journey home, as I come to publish this post I now sit at home in the UK. Whilst it’s great to be back and see everyone again, I’ll never forget how good New Zealand was to us both and can say without any doubt whatsoever that some day, we will be back. Til’ then NZ!